Tucked away in the beautiful and serene city of Siliguri in the state Bengal is a store that caters to women’s basic needs, i.e., lingerie. One may think, lingerie shopping may not be popular with women from the city, but it’s not so. For, Inside Story makes sure that women of the city don stylish and comfortable lingerie as well as sleepwear. The store offers everything from brands in lingerie to customised nightwear and it’s only for women.
A lingerie store dedicated solely to women maybe rare but Inside Story is just that; it offers not only branded lingerie but also customised sleepwear and also a huge collection in plus size. Siliguri had no lingerie store dedicated only to women that offered privacy along with an enticing display of products. All the stores in the city have no trail room and there’s no proper display as well. Also, there was no MBO in the city that stocked brands such as Amante, Enamor and Triumph. Mr Ajay Agarwal and his sister, Seema Goyal, saw this void in the space of lingerie and both together started Inside Story in June 2018.
The store offers everything that a woman would look for while shopping for innerwear and sleepwear.
LNL in conversation with partner Mr Ajay Agarwal about the concept of the store and future plans
How would you define your store in Siliguri?
Our store is the first female dedicated store for branded lingerie and customised sleepwear. Also, it has the largest collection with all plus sizes. Besides, we have almost all private accessories for women.
Do tell us the space in sq ft and the number of people (staff) in the store including the manager.
The store has an area of 700 sq ft in Planet Mall, which is located in the prime location in Siliguri. The staff comprises of three people, which includes one manager and two sales staff.
Do tell us about the interiors and decor of the store. Also give us details of Visual Merchandising?
The interiors are elegantly done…the lilac and white colours are in keeping with the theme of the brand. The lighting is innovative and makes for a magnificent view at the top. The trial room has posters and graffiti with backlit mirror frames with motion sensor giving it a very sophisticated look. Overall, the store is a very well-designed one.
Moreover, we have five full mannequins, five half bust mannequins, three décolletages, and two posters as part of visual merchandising. All our bras and nightwear are also tastefully displayed on hangers inside the store. Also, our prices are according to market standards; we offer a 10 per cent discount to all our privileged cards holder.
What aspects of retail concepts were kept in mind while designing this store? Have you been able to achieve these objectives?
We keep customer satisfaction at the centre of everything we do. The most important thing is to understand what the customer wants and deliver it to them. We have kept a variety of brands such as Triumph, Amante, Enamor, Jockey, Soie, Velvet By Night, Skinvalue, Below the Belt, Van Heusen, Sweet Dreams, and Lactra (swimwear) at our store and continue to add new collections because we understand that our customers are looking for more.
To achieve maximum customer satisfaction, we ensure that our experienced staff help the customers in choosing the right size and fit. Customers can try the merchandise in our trial room before buying. We have left no stone unturned to give the customer an excellent experience. We hope to give our customers the best in lingerie and night wear.
What is the philosophy behind Inside Story?
Inside Story believes that feeling beautiful from within is the true standard of beauty. There are people who only buy new and fashionable outfits; it shows that they only dress up to show. The lingerie you wear makes you feel beautiful and happy even if the world doesn’t see it. You wear what you like, without caring about the world.
What is the retail strategy planned and how is it being implemented to reach out to your customers?
A good retail environment is one where customers can experience the joy of shopping. They can freely browse through the options, pick out what they like and try it on. Online shopping has made it much more transactional. The real fun is in retail, where you can have a complete privacy while selecting with our trained in-house staff and our trial facility.
What makes for a good retail environment and how has this changed with the advent of online shopping?
One challenge that we face from online shopping sites is their ability to roll out discounts. Sometimes, some untrustworthy channels supply sub-standard products with discounts. With us, the product is always 100 per cent genuine. We also roll out discounts and offers from time to time.
How are you able to integrate the offers online with that on the offline channel? How big a challenge is this?
The online market has made it very doubtful for retail; still those customers who had been misled by inferior quality on online are our privileged customers. We can always win as our quality and hospitality in selection and trial overrides online.
What are your return policies when it comes to retail?
We allow for a 15-day window within which customers can get their purchases exchanged.
What are your plans going ahead?
Our plan going ahead is to be a trusted name in the lingerie and nightwear business. We want to serve customers of Siliguri as well as other places. We want to expand our stores in other cities where people aspire for pretty lingerie and nightwear. We are also looking at franchisee stores in Gangtok (Sikkim) and Thimpu (Bhutan).